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Chicago Tribune. Frank L. Hughes Papers (1)

Identifier: XI-182

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the papers of Frank Hughes (1908-1972) during his 29-year tenure at the Chicago Tribune (1942-1971).

Hughes wrote to a former teacher on January 3, 1952 that after two years of editorial writing in 1943 and 1944, he spent his time working "directly for Colonel McCormick, attending to writing and editing jobs in which he is most closely interested." According to a Time magazine article of April 11, 1949, Hughes worked on the same floor with the publisher (McCormick) rather than in the newsroom. Internal evidence reveals that Colonel McCormick directed much of his own correspondence to Hughes for reply. These papers, therefore, may be taken not only as a chronicle of Hughes' activities during his tenure at the Tribune, and a reflection of his attitudes, convictions, and political persuasions, but also those of the publisher. It appears that Hughes acted as a buffer of sorts between Colonel McCormick and the numerous extremist groups who were attracted to or who rejected the conservative, anti-New Deal, anti-communist philosophy of the 1940s and 1950s as reflected in the editorial policy of the Chicago Tribune. There is invaluable material in this collection for a researcher interested in this movement, in the divisiveness within the Republican Party as exemplified in the third party movement of 1952 and 1953, in the personal philosophies of both Hughes and. McCormick, and in several aspects of the workings of the Tribune -- the relationships among various editors and their publisher and the changes in these relationships as they occurred over a thirty year period, and, on the technical side, the steps involved in putting out the 1947 centennial edition of the paper.

The collection is not complete -- there are no papers, for example, for the years 1945 and 1946, relatively few from 1957 to 1968, and none from 1968 to 1971. Though the papers were in some disarray, after minimal organization they fall into eight groups which, chronologically arranged, portray rather fully Hughes' career at the Tribune.

Editorials (1943 and 1944; boxes 1 and 2)

Hughes was promoted to the editorial staff after nine months as a member of the Tribune rewrite staff, and remained in that position for two years. Approximately two-thirds of the carbon typescripts of his editorials in this collection are dated, and a large number of those dated have the printed editorial attached. It has not been determined if the undated editorials are those which did not make it to the editorial page, but this seems likely.

Chicago Tribune Centennial Edition (June 10, 1947; boxes 3 to 7)

Frank Hughes, as centennial editor, supervised the assembling of material for the issue and wrote much of it himself. He wrote in a letter of September 14, 1947 that he intended to prepare a newspaper-size scrapbook containing every memorandum, order, assignment, progress report, notation, and instruction relating to the preparation of the issue, along with galley proofs, first page proofs, revised page proofs, etc., right up to the final product. Evidently he never prepared the scrapbook, but kept the material now in boxes 3 to 7 for that purpose; therefore, though a few of the folders were empty, this record of his editorship is relatively complete.

Correspondence (1947-1953; boxes 8-23)

This correspondence for the years of Hughes' greatest activity is the heart of the collection and the most revealing of the man and his times. Having written a series of stories in 1946 on communism in Hollywood which later figured in investigations of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Hughes spent the following years extending his anti-communist investigations to the fields of public education and textbooks, universities and their faculties, foundations, etc. He became widely known for this work and developed into a popular speaker on such subjects as propaganda in education, freedom of the press, world government, and the implications to America of the socialist state. His correspondence with conservative groups and individuals throughout the country became voluminous; he also collected many pamphlets and other printed material pertaining to these groups (now in boxes 22 and 23 of this collection).

Book Manuscripts (1949-1957; boxes 24 to 31)

There are four manuscripts of books by Hughes in the collection, only one of which was published. Prejudice and the Press (New York: Devin-Adair, 1950) was written in response to the Hutchins-Luce Committee report on freedom of the press released in 1947. Boxes 24 to 27 contain his notes, source materials, correspondence, memos, various drafts and rewrites -- the whole story of this Frank Hughes/Chicago Tribune venture. Drafts of The Creed of an American (based on McCormick's speeches), A Short History of Freedom of the Press, and The Chetnik Odyssey are included here, along with correspondence and memos relating to the progress of these unpublished works.

Robert R. McCormick biographical material (box 32)

A July 22, 1950 memo from Frank Hughes to managing editor J. Loy ("Pat") Maloney states that after publication of Prejudice and the Press, Colonel McCormick gave Hughes a new assignment, that of writing a biography of McCormick. Hughes brought together material previously assembled by others who had worked on such a project, including Judge Julius Minor, friend and associate of McCormick; Clifford Raymond, Tribune editorial writer; and Alex Small, foreign correspondent. He began his assignment by taping an interview with the publisher in August, 1950. It appears, however, that as Hughes became more and more involved in his investigative reporting, the project fell by the wayside. A typescript of his taped interview with Colonel McCormick is included in this material, though the tape itself is missing. His widow advised the Tribune Company Archives that she had no knowledge of its whereabouts.

Third Party Movement (1952-1955; boxes 33 to 36)

The year 1953 marked the end of Frank Hughes' close working relationship with McCormick. At the publisher's direction, Hughes was made a general assignment reporter in March, though he remained in his office on the 25th floor of the Tribune Tower. The last stories he wrote which were directly related to Colonel McCormick's special interests concerned the third party movement of 1952 -[\- a movement to bring together the conservative and anti-internationalist factions of both major parties and supported for the most part by members of the Taft wing of the Republican party.

The more than 2000 letters in this collection received in response to McCormick's August 23, 1952 radio address advocating the formation of such a party, along with Hughes' stories and his 1953 survey of 100 of the 1952 letters, furnish invaluable primary source material for researchers interested in this period of political history. The stories remained unpublished, however, and in December 1953 Hughes moved to the city desk doing rewrite work and general assignments.

Correspondence and files (1963-1968; boxes 37 and 38)

Hughes' files for these years are skimpy, and consist chiefly of a university series he worked on in 1964 and 1965, and a ham radio column he conducted in 1966. During this period, Hughes also worked at arranging the files of McCormick papers which eventually became the foundation of Tribune Company Archives.

Voice to Viet Nam promotion (1966; boxes 39-43)

From January 9 to February 4, 1966 the Chicago Tribune collected and forwarded messages from friends and relatives to Chicago area servicemen in the Far East, a promotion conceived by Hughes following the December 29, 1965 FCC announcement that restrictions on third-party amateur radio traffic to Viet Nam were to be removed. It was the first instance in which direct service by amateur radio was made available from a public location. During the 21-day period, 2,587 radiograms were sent to servicemen in Viet Nam. This collection consists of clippings on the promotion, correspondence, and a selection of the messages sent and teletype printouts.


  • 1943 - 1968


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on use of the materials in the department for research; all patrons must comply with federal copyright regulations.


43 Boxes

Language of Materials



This collection contains the papers of Frank Hughes (1908-1972) during his 29-year tenure at the Chicago Tribune (1942-1971).


Arrangement completed prior to receiving collection from the McCormick Foundation.

Custodial History

Hughes' papers were stored in Tribune Tower from the time of his retirement until their move to the Tribune Company Archives in 1973.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Chicago Tribune Company, and Nexstar Media Group on January 10, 2020, accession #SPEC-2020-1.

Guide to the Chicago Tribune. Frank L. Hughes Papers (1), 1943-1968
In Progress
Lee Major
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US